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Elijah Wald

Musical group formed in 2002 in Los Angeles. The most successful exponents of the Southern California style known as “banda rap” or “urban regional” music, Akwid is a duo of brothers Francisco and Sergio Gómez. Born in Michoacan and raised in Los Angeles, the Gomezes made their debut in the mid 1990s as English-language rappers Juvenile Style, then switched to Spanish and renamed themselves Akwid (a combination of their deejay pseudonyms, A.K. and Wikid) in 2000.

Their first album gained only lackluster sales, but after they signed with a subsidiary of Univision in 2003, their second, Proyecto Akwid, sold a third of a million CDs. Its sound mixed traditional Mexican music—especially the West Coast brass band style known as banda—with rhythms and studio techniques adapted from gangsta rap. Other groups were attempting similar fusions, but where most had to rely on outside producers, Akwid controlled their own sound and created a particularly organic musical combination, driven by the thump of tuba samples and clever use of familiar ...



David B. Pruett

Country music group. Acknowledged by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in 1989 as the Artist of the Decade for the 1980s, Alabama is arguably the most celebrated country music group in the history of the genre. Three of the band’s members—lead vocalist Randy Owen (b Fort Payne, AL, 13 Dec 1949), multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook (b Fort Payne, AL, 27 Aug 1949), and bassist Teddy Gentry (b Fort Payne, AL, 22 Jan 1952)—had been performing their unique blend of southern rock and country pop together throughout the American South since 1969. Beginning in 1974, the group began playing regular shows in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where drummer Mark Herndon (b Springfield, MA, 11 May 1955) became the group’s fourth and final member in 1979, one year before Alabama signed with RCA. The group’s first major label release My Home’s in Alabama (RCA, ...


Alice Cooper  

Deena Weinstein

Both an American Detroit-based hard rock band and the adopted name of its singer and main creative force Vincent Damon Furnier (b Detroit, MI, 4 Feb 1946). Cooper was the son of a minister and the nephew of the storyteller Damon Runyon, after whom he was named. He moved to Arizona, where he attended high school and formed the Nazz. This band eventually took the name Alice Cooper and developed an over-the-top, theatrical shock-rock style that influenced a host of other rock performers.

With snide and clever lyrics, Alice Cooper’s style was mainly hard rock, but some tunes were psychedelic and others would be suitable in a Broadway musical. After moving to Michigan, the band scored numerous hits in the early 1970s. Many of the songs were rebellious youth-focused anthems, including “Eighteen” (Warner, 1971) and “School’s Out” (Warner, 1972). Others centered on ghoulish menace or mere gothic gruesomeness like “Dead Babies” (Warner, ...


Amos, Tori  

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Myra Ellen]

(b Newton, NC, Aug 22, 1963). American alternative-rock singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer. She emerged in the early 1990s amid a resurgence of female singer-songwriters and has been one of the few well known alternative-rock artists to use the piano as her primary instrument. She attended the preparatory division of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory but left the school at the age of 11. She began to play her own music in nightclubs at 14, chaperoned by her father, who was a preacher. After Amos moved to Los Angeles in her late teens to pursue a recording career, her band Y Kant Tori Read released a self-titled album (Atl., 1987). Although this was unsuccessful, Atlantic Records retained her six-album contract.

Amos’s debut solo album, Little Earthquakes (Atl., 1992), earned her critical acclaim for her vocal expressivity, pianistic virtuosity, and fearless exploration of a wide range of personal themes, notably female sexuality, personal relationships, religion, sexual violence, and coming of age. The album ...


Angelic Gospel Singers, the  

Roxanne R. Reed

Gospel ensemble. The Angelic Gospel Singers, or the Angelics, were an African American female gospel quartet based in Philadelphia. Founder, lead singer, and pianist Margaret Allison (1921–2008) a native of McCormick, South Carolina, moved with her family to Philadelphia as a youth. Allison joined the Spiritual Echoes in 1942 and learned vocal arranging, composition, and accompanying techniques. Allison’s family was affiliated with the Pentecostal Church, but stylistically her gospel sound was closer to that of the southern Baptist church and gospel tradition. Allison left the Spiritual Echoes in 1944 to form the Angelics. Joining her were fellow former Spiritual Echoes members Lucille Shird and Ella Mae Norris. The third member was Allison’s sister Josephine MacDowell. The quartet’s sound mimicked that of popular male quartets such as the Fairfield Four and the Dixie Hummingbirds with controlled harmonies and simple accompaniment. The Angelic Gospel Singers commonly performed with the Hummingbirds. As a group, the Angelics performed primarily on the Pentecostal Church circuit. Their rendition of Lucie Campbell’s “Touch Me, Lord Jesus” (...


Arcade Fire  

Ryan R. McNutt

Canadian indie rock band. With captivating live performances and acclaimed recordings, the Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist group stood at the forefront of indie rock’s ascendency in the 2000s, growing from internet fanbase to festival-headlining slots over the decade. Often augmented by friends and touring members live, the core band consists of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, and Jeremy Gara.

Formed in 2001 in Montreal, Québec—where the Texas-born Butler brothers attended school and met Chassagne, the daughter of Haitian immigrants—Arcade Fire quickly earned a local cult following that exploded upon the release of Funeral, its 2004 debut (Merge Records). An ecstatic review on the popular music website Pitchfork is often cited as the catalyst, though the band capitalized on that enthusiasm with its theatrical live show. Soaring melodies and anthemic, singalong hooks earned the album endorsements from David Bowie, David Byrne, and U2, all of whom have since performed with the band....


Ashford and Simpson  

Stephen Holden

Soul duo and songwriting and production team. Nickolas Ashford (b Fairfield, Hilton Head Island, SC, 4 May 1942; d New York, NY, 22 Aug 2011) and Valerie Simpson (b Bronx, NY, 26 Aug 1946) met in 1963; their first successful songwriting collaboration was “Let’s go get stoned” which, in a recording by Ray Charles (ABC, 1966), reached no.31 on the pop chart. They became staff writers and producers for Motown, where they worked with such performers as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (“You’re all I need to get by,” Motown, 1968) and “Ain’t nothing like the real thing,” Motown, 1968) and Diana Ross (“Ain’t no mountain high enough, Motown, 1970). Ashford produced two albums that Simpson recorded under her own name (Exposed!, Motown, 1971, and Valerie Simpson, Motown, 1972). After leaving Motown, they released their first album together for Warner Bros., ...


Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians  

Michael Baumgartner


A nonprofit organization devoted to African American avant-garde music. It was founded in Chicago’s South Side on 8 May 1965 by members of Muhal Richard Abrams’ free-jazz ensemble the Experimental Band. As well as Abrams, who was its first president, the AACM’s original members were Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Amina Claudine Myers, Malachi Favors, Thurman Barker, Joseph Jarman, and Maurice McIntyre. Its main objectives have been to organize concerts for the public and workshops for its members, and since the foundation of the AACM School of Music in 1969 to conduct free training programs for young musicians. In addition it has aimed “to set an example of high moral standards for musicians.” Its primary intention was to provide an alternative to the established art institutions in order to promote the music of young, independent, experimental African American musicians. With the postulate to move towards a multicultural and multi-ethnic outlook, each member created “original music”—notated, improvised, or both—by striving beyond the set boundaries of jazz to explore a stylistic hybridity. Its musicians broke new ground by making use of extended techniques, interactivity, experimental forms and notation, invented acoustic instruments, installations, and kinetic sculptures....


Backstreet Boys  

Craig Jennex

American boy band formed in Orlando, Florida, in 1993. Founded by the teen-pop aficionado Lou Pearlman, the group became part of a hugely successful teen-pop movement in the late 1990s. Its best-known line-up was Nick Carter (b Jamestown, NY, 28 Jan 1980), Howie Dorough (b Orlando, FL, 22 Aug 1973), Brian Littrell (b Lexington, KY, 20 Feb 1975), A(lexander) J(ames) McLean (b Palm Beach, FL, 9 Jan 1978), and, until 2006, Kevin Richardson (b Lexington, 3 Oct 1971). Their albums include Backstreet Boys (Jive Records, 1996), Backstreet’s Back (Jive Records, 1997), Millennium (Jive Records, 1999), Black & Blue (Jive Records, 2000), Never Gone (Jive Records, 2005), Unbreakable (Jive Records, 2007), and This is Us (Jive Records, 2009). The band was widely known and celebrated in Europe, Asia, and Canada before becoming popular in the United States. By the 2010s they had sold more than 130 million records worldwide and were considered the most successful boy band of all time. The Backstreet Boys have been recognized internationally with awards from MTV Europe (...


Bad Brains  

Lukas Pearse

Hardcore punk rock group. Formed in Washington, DC in 1977, its classic lineup includes guitarist Dr. Know (Gary Miller), bassist Darryl Jenifer, drummer Earl Hudson, and vocalist H.R. (Earl’s brother, Paul D. Hudson). The group remained active into 2011, despite various breakups, departures, and reunions. Originally formed as a jazz fusion group, but inspired by punk rock and reggae, Bad Brains pioneered the extremely fast and loud style that became known as Hardcore, influencing bands such as Minor Threat and Black Flag. Integrating reggae songs, complex rhythms, heavy metal and jazz-influenced guitar solos, and unison riffs—all unusual in hardcore—Bad Brains remains highly distinctive. Its lyrics often explore themes of Rastafarianism and social-political consciousness.

Although one of the definitive 1980s hardcore bands, the group’s popularity was hampered by erratic touring and poor distribution of their recordings. Nevertheless, their influence has been acknowledged by subsequent groups such as the Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Living Colour....


Bailes Brothers  

Ronnie Pugh

Country-music group. Its principal members were four brothers: Kyle (Otis) Bailes (b Enoch, WV, 7 May 1915; d 3 March 1996), Johnnie (John Jacob) Bailes (b St. Albans, WV, 24 June 1918; d 21 Dec 1989), Walter (Butler) Bailes (b North Charleston, WV, 17 Jan 1920; d Sevierville, TN, 27 Nov 2000), and Homer (Vernon) Bailes (b North Charleston, WV, 8 May 1922); at different times various combinations of the brothers and other musicians made up the group. Brought up by a widowed mother during the Depression, the brothers formed a group called the Hymn Singers to earn their living. Among the performers who influenced their style were Hank and Slim Newman and the Holden Brothers. The Bailes Brothers worked on various West Virginia radio stations, where their colleagues included Molly O’Day (then known as Dixie Lee) and Little Jimmy Dickens, billed by Johnnie as the Singing Midget. During World War II, while Homer was in military service, Johnnie and Walter performed as a duo on the “Grand Ole Opry,” having secured the booking through their friendship with Roy Acuff. In the mid- 1940s the group made its most successful recordings, mostly of songs written by Walter, for Columbia; at that time it was known as the West Virginia Home Folks. In ...


Ballet(s) Russe(s)  


Band in the United States  

Raoul F. Camus

A musical ensemble consisting of the standard woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Adjectives, such as circus, college, concert, military, parade, symphonic, or town denote specific functions, often implying instrumental combinations and usages; this article deals mainly with the history of such ensembles in the United States (See also Circus Music; Military music; and Wind Ensemble.) In its more general sense, the term “band” is used to describe other vernacular ensembles, such as banjo, dance, jazz, jug, mummers, rock, steel, string, and theater bands. For information on such groups see Country music; Folk music; Jazz; Pop; and Rock.

The terms “band” and “orchestra” were often used interchangeably in the past but have become increasingly distinct. Bands, descended from the medieval “high” (loud) instruments, the human Marsyas in Greek mythology, the waits, and Stadtpfeifer, generally performed outdoors, therefore requiring a predominance of the louder brass and percussion instruments. They were mobile, usually associated with a military organization and therefore uniformed, had a vernacular appeal, and generally gave free performances of lighter forms of music for the mass public. Orchestras, on the other hand, are descended from the medieval “low” (soft) instruments, the god Apollo, and the concept of chamber music. The musicians normally performed indoors using predominantly strings and the softer wind instruments; were stationary and usually associated with the church or nobility; and appealed to a sophisticated audience with more serious music for which audiences paid. Until the early 20th century professional musicians were expected to be “double-handed”: competent on both string and wind instruments. The function therefore determined the ensemble’s instrumentation, the performers forming a wind band for outdoor occasions or an orchestra for indoor concerts and entertainments....


Band, the  

Chris McDonald

Canadian rock group. It comprised Robbie Robertson (b Toronto, ON, 5 July 1943; electric guitar and songwriting), Levon Helm (b Elaine, AR, 26 May 1940; d Woodstock, NY, 19 April 2012; drums), Richard Manuel (b Stratford, ON, 3 April 1943; d Winter Park, FL, 4 March 1986; piano and songwriting), Rick Danko (b Simcoe, ON, 29 Dec 1942; d Hurley, NY, 10 Dec 1999; bass guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and songwriting), and Garth Hudson (b Windsor, ON, 2 Aug 1937; organ, accordion, woodwind, and brass). All except Hudson also sang.

Following a move to Toronto in 1958, the Arkansas rockabilly performer Ronnie Hawkins hired a backing group that later became the Band. Helm was the original drummer, but other positions in the group changed for three years, until Robertson, Manuel, Danko, and Hudson were established as permanent members. In 1964 the group left Hawkins and performed first as the Levon Helm Sextet, then Levon Helm and the Hawks, and finally as the Band. The group was hired by Bob Dylan to back him on his first electric rock tour (...



Helena Simonett

[Banda Sinaloense]

Banda (band) is a generic Spanish term for a variety of ensembles consisting of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments found throughout Latin America. Introduced in the mid-1800s, brass bands were a fixture of Mexico’s musical life in the late 19th century and flourished in both rural and urban areas. With the revolutionary movement (1910–20) bandas populares (popular bands) developed pronounced regional characteristics, and the lineup in regional bands became increasingly more standardized.

Among the many regional bands, banda sinaloense (Sinaloan banda) stands out, as this type gained a reputation in the international popular music market at the close of the twentieth century. The ensemble dates back to the military bands of European colonists and to the brass music of German immigrants to Mexico’s northern Pacific coast in the mid-19th century. After its consolidation in the early 20th century, band membership in Sinaloa averaged from nine to 12 musicians playing clarinets, cornets or trumpets, trombones with valves, saxhorns, tubas, snare drums (...


Banda El Recodo  

Helena Simonett

[de Cruz Lizárraga]

Internationally renowned Mexican banda, originally from the village of El Recodo, some 30 miles from Mazatlán, Sinaloa. Clarinetist Cruz Lizárraga (b El Recodo, 1918; d Mazatlán, 1995), who led the band starting in 1938, secured a recording session with RCA-Victor in Mexico City in 1954 which helped to establish the band’s name beyond its regional confines. Its key to success was the musicians’ ability to accommodate their ranchera (country) music to an urban audience of the upper social strata by adopting international popular dance styles from fox trot and Cuban danzón to mambo and cumbia. Due to the band’s professional accomplishments, Lizárraga was always able to recruit the best performers out of a large pool of regional musicians. Although Banda El Recodo recorded with famous ranchera singers such as José Alfredo Jiménez in 1968, it was not until the early 1990s, when Sinaloan banda entered a new phase of international commercialization, that it began to integrate vocalists into the hitherto purely instrumental makeup. After Lizárraga’s death, his sons resumed leadership of the band. Nowadays, Banda El Recodo is one of Sinaloa’s commercially oriented, high-profile touring bands that perform styles increasingly defined by the transnational music market....


Banda mocha  

John M. Schechter

revised by J. Richard Haefer

(Sp.: mocha, ‘to cut’)

An ensemble of gourd (puro) trumpets of various sizes, used in the Chota river valley of Imbabura and Carchi provinces of Ecuador. Formed in the late 19th century by Afro-Ecuadorians without access to Western military band instruments, the ensemble includes several puros (calabazas) and pencos (cabuyos) along with other instruments. Puros, about 30 to 60 cm long, are made by cutting a rectangular blowhole near the stem end of a dried gourd and opening the distal end to form a sort of bell. Various sizes provide lead, alto, and tenor ranges. Pencos are made of hollow agave stems about 30 cm long and 7 cm in diameter, with a blowhole cut near one end on a side. The similar chile frito, an ensemble of central Guerrero, Mexico, consists of imitation band instruments made of assembled sections of gourds.

C.A. Coba Andrade: ‘Instrumentos musicales ecuatorianos’, ...



Set of two or more single-headed frame drums, with or without circular metal jingles, and a kettledrum used by members of the k’adiriyya Islamic sect of northern Nigeria. It accompanies the zikiri (creed formula by which a person acknowledges that he is a Muslim). The frame drum is held in the left hand and beaten with the fingers of the right....


Barenaked Ladies  

Chris McDonald

Canadian rock group. Steven Page (b Toronto, ON, 22 June 1970; vocals) and Ed Robertson (b Toronto, 25 Oct 1970; guitar) began performing as a duo in 1988, developing a folk-rock style based on satirical songs and droll stage banter. After adopting the name Barenaked Ladies, they performed on the college circuit and built up a fan base. They added further backup musicians in 1991, including Jim Creegan (b Toronto, 12 Feb 1970; bass guitar), Andy Creegan (b Toronto, 4 July 1971; keyboards), and Tyler Stewart (b 21 Sept 1967; drums). The group sold independently produced cassettes at live shows. As their notoriety grew, one of these, The Yellow Tape (1991), became a runaway hit, achieving platinum-level sales in Canada, leading to a deal with Reprise Records. The band’s first album, Gordon (Rep., 1992) achieved high sales and acclaim in Canada. “If I had $1,000,000” and “Be my Yoko Ono” became signature hits. Creegan was replaced by Kevin Hearn (b Grimsby, ON, ...


Barrett Sisters, the  

Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...